Poor voter turnout was recorded in the first nine hours of polls to the Greater Hyderabad municipal elections on Tuesday, 1 December, as only 30 percent voters had cast their votes till 4 pm, reported The Hindu.
Polling for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) began on Tuesday, at 7 am amid elaborate arrangements in place as over 74 lakh voters will decide the political fortunes of 1,122 candidates in 150 divisions in one of the most bitterly-fought polls for any municipal body in recent times.
Polling stations in many divisions of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were almost deserted in the first couple of hours due to chilly weather, reports said. The polling is scheduled to conclude at 6 pm at 9,101 polling stations.
Reports of Sporadic Clashes
According to news agency ANI, a clash had broken out between TRS and BJP workers at Kukatpally during the polling for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, earlier today
Telangana: A clash broke out between TRS and BJP workers at Kukatpally during the polling for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, earlier today. pic.twitter.com/Y7ipLtOox7
— ANI (@ANI) December 1, 2020
Apart from this, sporadic incidents of clashes between rival parties were reported from some divisions.
There was slight tension in Chaitanya Nagar colony in Patancheru due to the clash between TRS and BJP workers. TRS MLA Mahipal Reddy's son allegedly attacked a youth for wearing 'khandva' of another party. Police intervened to control the situation.
Voters at some places in Ziaguda and Chandrayangutta complained that their names were missing from the voters' lists. They alleged that their votes were deleted without verification, according to IANS.
Repolling Ordered for Old Malakpet Ward
Meanwhile, the State Election Commission has rescheduled polling in Old Malakpet ward number 26 for 3 December, after a wrong symbol was printed against the name of the CPI’s candidate in the ballot paper.
Repolling for this ward will be held in all 69 polling stations from 7 am to 6 pm and the Returning Officers would be replaced as well.
Since repoll of one ward has been ordered, the SEC banned broadcast and publishing of exit polls till 6 pm on 3 December.
MBT Claims Bogus Votes in
Amid all of this. the Majlis Bachao Tehreek Party (MBT) has alleged that several women from outside the constituency had arrived at Azampura ward to cast bogus votes, reports The News Minute.
According to the report, MBT Spokesperson Amjed Ulla Khan claimed that around six autorickshaws carrying burqa-clad women had arrived at booth number 15 and 16 of Azampura ward.
While Ulla Khan claimed that the women had been brought to Azampura – an AIMIM stronghold– from neighbouring wards and were unable to provide their credentials when questioned by cops, the Hyderabad Police has rejected claims made by the MBT.
"“These women were just going in an auto-rickshaw when they were stopped and MBT party workers alleging that these are women casting bogus votes. The women were let off after verification.”" - M Ramesh, Deputy Commissioner of Police, East Zone to TNM,High-Profile Voters
State Election Commissioner C Parthasarthy told IANS that all arrangements have been made for smooth and peaceful conduct of the elections, duly following COVID-19 regulations.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha, who is also the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, also cast her vote in the GHMC polls.
Telangana Minister and TRS leader, KT Rama Rao and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi have also cast their votes. “I appeal to the people of Hyderabad to cast their vote today to strengthen democracy,” Owaisi was quoted by ANI as saying.
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) December 1, 2020
A total of 74,67,256 people are eligible to cast their votes. The electorate constitutes 38,89,637 men, 35,76,941 women and 678 others.
Polling Through Paper Ballots
The election authorities are conducting the polls through postal ballots instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Voters, who have been issued Elector's Photo Identity Card (EPIC), have to produce it to exercise their franchise when they arrive at the polling station for voting.
Those, who are unable to produce their EPICs, will have to produce any one of the 18 alternative photo identity card documents to establish their identity. Photo voter slips will not be considered as an alternate identification document.
Voter slips are being distributed to all the electors by the booth-level officers. Those who have not received their voter slips can download the same through GHMC app/tsec.gov.in/ghmc.gov.in.
A Bitter Campaign for a Prestige Battle
The high-octane campaign for the civic body came to an end on Sunday. The campaign saw leaders of major parties making bitter attacks on each other.
Ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is looking to retain power in the municipal body while upbeat over its victory in Dubbak Assembly by-election, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a determined bid to wrest power.
The elections are being fought without any alliance among the parties. The Congress and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) are also contesting the polls on their own. While TRS, BJP and Congress are contesting all the seats, MIM has fielded candidates in 51 divisions.
The TRS had won 99 seats in 2016 elections while MIM had finished second with 44 seats. The BJP could win only four seats then.
(With inputs from ANI and IANS.)
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